Jimmy Butler is still on the Timberwolves. His stated desire to leave the Gopher State was reported less than a week before training camp (though he's said he told Tom Thibodeau a few days after being eliminated by the Rockets in the first round), and since then the soap opera has been riveting NBA audiences in withdrawal after a summer without much drama following free agency. It all reached a head when he finally showed up for practice like Denzel Washington's Alonzo from Training Day last week, but he's still suiting up on Tuesday in their opener and on Friday when they host the Cavs for the first time at the Target Center. So the question is, how will the fans react to their star's snarling wish to leave?
"Go ahead, boo me," Butler told reporters at the Target Center on Sunday. "It ain’t going to change the way that I play. In fact, it’s going to make me smile more. So, please come on with it."
Butler met with owner Glen Taylor before his historic practice last week, and at the time Taylor agreed to keep trying to unload Butler. However, in the meantime, Jimmy's going to suit up and play. Thibodeau, who isn't ardently trying to trade his star because it significantly reduces Minnesota's chances to make the postseason in a loaded conference, remained opaque on Jimmy's future in Minney:
“We’re always looking at options," he said on Sunday. "Whatever is best for our team, that’s what we’ll do. Everything is fluid, we’ll continue to work through things, we’re always going to do what’s best for the Timberwolves.”
Remarkably, one of the subjects of Jimmy's ire at his blowup in practice, Andrew Wiggins—whose brother prematurely celebrated Butler's supposed exit right after news leaked—appears welcoming to the star:
For his part, Butler says "I talk to [my teammates] everyday. I miss my guys. I want to compete, they know that. They know I have my best interest in it, theirs. I tell them everything that I see out there on the basketball court because I want them to be great. 'If I’m out there, if I’m not out there, I want you to be the best basketball player that you can be.'
“That was my message to everybody. It’s not personal. Especially to my guys."
Jimmy's PR people deserve a raise.